How To Troubleshoot SiriusXM Reception Issues

We all can agree that SiriusXM enriches the driving experience. So reception issues can really put a damper on your trip. It’s no fun driving in complete silence or having the sound fade in and out, causing you to miss some of your favorite songs or radio shows. Luckily, SiriusXM audio quality problems are pretty easy to troubleshoot and fix.

Ruling Out Other Problems

Radio screen

In some cases, the radio and all the hardware are in perfect working order, but issues not within your control are causing the reception issues. Before you roll up your sleeves and dive into the troubleshooting process, you may want to rule out these problems first.

Does The Signal Drop Intermittently?

If this is the case, the cause can be one of these two issues:

1. Bad Coverage

Even though SiriusXM has a large coverage area, it’s not available everywhere. When you enter an area where SiriusXM isn’t available, the signal drops. The most common “dead” places include:

  • Extremely rural areas.
  • Underground parking garages and tunnels.

If you’re in an area where your radio should be getting a SiriusXM signal, try refreshing your radio.

2. Incorrect FM Frequency

Some SiriusXM radio receivers work by broadcasting a low power FM signal to your car stereo. You (or your installer) chose the broadcast frequency during the set-up process. Your car radio needs to be tuned to that exact frequency to play good quality sound. If the car radio tuner gets bumped just a little, the sound quality will be poor. You can find the frequency your SiriusXM radio is broadcasting on by pushing the menu button and looking for the setting.

During the setup process, your SiriusXM radio was set to broadcast on an FM signal that was unused in your city. As you travel, you may find a radio station also broadcasting on the same frequency. To fix this, you can change the frequency that your SiriusXM radio is using. To do this:

  • Search on your current zip code here to locate an empty frequency.
  • Set the SiriusXM radio to broadcast on the new frequency.
  • Tune your car radio to the new frequency.

If you need more detailed instructions, refer to the “Find an FM Frequency” section in your SiriusXM user guide.

Troubleshooting Hardware Problems

If you’ve ruled out the above problems, it’s time to move on to troubleshooting hardware problems.

1. Bad Antenna

No signal

Error message: “No Signal”

The signal quality depends on the antenna. We (as well as SiriusXM) always recommend placing the antenna outside with a clear view of the southern sky. If your antenna is either inside the vehicle or outside the vehicle but somehow obscured, you may have reception issues. Metal, such as in the roof of your car, blocks satellite radio signals. But glass does not. So if you’ve got your antenna mounted inside the car, it can receive the signal only when the antenna can “see” the satellite through glass.

If the antenna is mounted at the right location, and if the radio says ‘no signal’, then it could be a bad antenna. Replacing it usually does the trick. The antenna cable might also be the problem. Check both ends to make sure they are not loose. Also check the length of the cable to make sure it didn’t get kinked.

2. Tuner Error

Error message: “Tuner Error”

If you see an error message that says, “tuner error”, then there’s a problem with the tuner. It’s having trouble picking up the signal and decoding the data. The best thing to do in this situation is to replace the tuner.

3. Can You Access SiriusXM On Your Radio?


Is SiriusXM available as a source on your radio?

  • YES – Note of the error message on the screen. You may see “No Signal” or “Tuner Error”. Refer to the steps above.
  • NO – Then the problem is with the equipment driving SiriusXM to the radio. It may be:
    • Factory-installed equipment (usually inside the radio)
    • Bad wiring
    • The aftermarket equipment you installed to add SiriusXM to your stereo

We aren’t capable of troubleshooting equipment we didn’t manufacture. If you do have a VAIS adapter in your car, first check all of it’s connections to make sure they are sound. If that doesn’t resolve the issue we’ll be happy to help you troubleshoot your SiriusXM audio issues involving our equipment. You can contact us by calling us, emailing us, or filling out this form.

Categories: Satellite Radio